Egyptian Coptic Church delegation in Jerusalem Tuesday to discuss renovation of monastery
The visit, announced by the Church earlier this week, comes in agreement with officials from the Ethiopian Church with the aim of discussing the restoration of the ancient Deir El-Sultan Monastery in Jerusalem's Old City.
Bishop Baeman, head of the Coptic Church's Crisis Management Committee, said that the exploratory visit will include the reviewing of documents that prove Egyptian ownership of the monastery.
Deir El-Sultan is one of the most important Coptic landmarks in Jerusalem and is the oldest church in the world.
The ownership of the monastery has been a source of contention since the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war that saw Israel seize the religious house from Coptic Egyptian monks and hand it over to the Ethiopian Coptic Church.
A high Israeli court had ruled on Egypt's right to the monastery's ownership following dozens of court cases Cairo had brought before Israeli courts. However, the verdict has not been upheld by the Israeli government.
This visit is the fourth by church representatives since Coptic Pope Tawadros II visited Jerusalem to attend Bishop Ibrahim's funeral last November.
The delegation will be joined by a group of Egyptian diplomats, as well as representatives from the Egyptian consulate, as the monastery issue has not been discussed since the war in 1967.
According to Bishop Baeman, ecclesiastical visits should not be considered a violation of the church’s longstanding stance against Egyptian Copts visiting Israel.
The bishop stressed that Pope Tawadros II is entitled to have final say on the travel ban to Jerusalem.
The late Pope Shenouda III issued a formal papal ban on pilgrimages to Israel in 1979, a policy that remains in place today as a clear stance against the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.